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DMK, AIADMK candidates cross swords in five Salem seats

Saturday 8 April 2006, by ILANGOVAN*R.

The district has a history of springing surprises

SALEM: Salem district, since 1952, has been the epicentre of many political events that had a direct bearing on the State’s socio-political climate.

Visionaries like Rajagopalachariyar and Vijayaragavachariyar strode the political arena here with elan. EVR. Periyar’s self-respect moment triggered the birth of the Dravidian moment. It was here the Justice Party was renamed Dravidar Kazhagam. Later, Mohan Kumaramangalam, his son Rangarajan and Vazhapadi K.Ramamurthi donned the mantle of political leadership.

The then Salem Zilla Board, comprising today’s Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, had 18 constituencies in the 1952 and 1957 elections. Later, the districts of Dharmapuri (1965), Namakkal (1996) and Krishnagiri (2002) were carved out of Salem. Now the districts of Salem (11), Namakkal (6), Dharmapuri (5) and Krishnagiri (5) share 27 Assembly segments.

Double member seats

The Zilla Board in those days had a few double member constituencies too. Namakkal and Harur in the 1952 elections, and Harur, Yercaud, Tiruchengode, Namakkal and Attur in the 1957 polls, elected two members each, one for the general category and another for reserved. The system was abolished in 1962.

The 11 Assembly constituencies in Salem district have a mixed population comprising the Vanniyars, Vellala Gounders, Mudaliars, Chettiars, Pillais, tribals and dalits. Agriculture, weaving, mining and trade are the main activities.

The Congress, the DMK and the AIADMK have been dominating the polls since 1957, though the PMK has been an emerging force in the last three elections.

Salem has a history of springing surprises. The Janata Party (Salem II in1977) and the Praja Socialist Party (Mettur in 1967 and 1971) emerged victorious. Dravidian leader V.R.Nedunchezhian fought and lost as an Independent in Salem I in 1957. The DMK was then emerging as a political force.

A few candidates have scored a hat-trick of victories. DMK strongman and former Minister Veerapandi. S.Arumugam won from the Veerapandi constituency in 1962, 1967 and 1971. C.Palanimuthu of the Congress emerges victorious from Attur in 1977, 1980 and 1984. K.P.Nachimuthu (Congress) was elected from Mettur in 1977, 1980 and 1984.

This time, the DMK is contesting in Veerapandi, Salem-II, Panamarathupatti, Talaivasal (SC) and Yercaud (ST) seats. Its ally PMK is contesting from Edapadi, Taramangalam, Mettur and Omalur. Salem I and Attur have been assigned to the Congress.

The AIADMK is contesting in Salem I, Salem II, Mettur, Omalur, Yercaud, Veerapandi, Panamarathupatti, Talaivasal, Edapadi and Attur sets, leaving Taramangalam to the MDMK.

The DMK and the AIADMK are crossing swords in five constituencies with the key contestants in the fray being Veerapandi S.Arumugam (Salem II), Vijayalakshmi Palanichamy (Veerapandi) and G.K.Mani (Mettur). The total electorate in the district are 22,33,687 (Men: 11,18,440, Women: 11,15,247).

See online : The Hindu

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